The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf’s Art Through the Ages exhibit officially opened last month, as families gathered to view the student’s artwork in Philadelphia’s City Hall.
Mayor Michael Nutter opened the ceremony by welcoming and congratulating the kids on their great work and reminding them that no obstacle will stop them from their life goals.
Located along School House Lane in Germantown, Philadelphia is a unique school, where students that are deaf or hard of hearing can get a spectacular education. From early intervention to high school, students can attend the Philadelphia School for the Deaf and learn everything from American and English sign language to art and athletics.
The school not only provides an education to more than 200 students, but also has off-campus support services. They offer sign language courses for parents, as well as helping student’s families understand the deaf culture.
While many schools across the country have art programs that took a beating due to budget cuts, the arts at PSD seem to be thriving. Led by art instructors Billy Li and Lauren Stichter, the students are able to express themselves through artwork starting at a very early age. The staff at PSD believes that art is essential to the deaf children as a way to express themselves, especially if communication with their families is difficult.
Instructor Billy Li understands firsthand how great of an influence that the school can be on these children. Born and raised in China, Li moved to the United States to attend Gallaudet University (a private university for the education of the Deaf and hard of hearing). He now has been teaching at PSD for two years.
“All of our students are deaf and hard of hearing. If they went to a hearing school, they wouldn’t learn about deaf culture. And here they are around deaf and hard of hearing mentors and they feel influenced by the leadership here,” said Li.
Li explained that the students’ visual dependency surrounds them with images in every aspect of their daily life. If students are struggling with written English, drawing or painting could be the best way for them to express their feelings to family members that can not understand sign yet.
– Text, images and video by Kelsey Dubinsky.